Research Areas Update – Spring 2020

Following the updates made to Research Areas in April 2019, as part of the evolved approach to Managing our Portfolio and Priorities, EPSRC has been gathering information and evidence to inform its 2020 annual refresh of Research Areas.

As part of this annual monitoring and change cycle, EPSRC themes have reviewed their portfolios and, in collaboration with their SATs, identified 11 Research Areas requiring update, having taken into account:

  • evidence submitted through the Open Call for Evidence
  • engagement with SATs or their equivalent
  • input from the SAN
  • other sources of evidence and stakeholder engagement
  • EPSRC portfolio data

Of these, ten are considered to be minor changes only, to aid clarity and/or to reference new influences or evidence sources. In addition to these ten minor changes proposed, EPSRC has made one major change, by embedding Complexity Science across the portfolio.

Complexity Science

EPSRC has made the decision to embed Complexity Science across the EPSRC portfolio, in order to better emphasise the importance of a systems approach.

Although Complexity Science will no longer appear as a discrete area in EPSRC’s taxonomy, complexity remains an important part of the EPSRC portfolio. Emphasis will now be focused on the domain area, and Complexity Science’s contribution to that domain area. EPSRC continues to encourage research using Complexity Science approaches and the expectation is for grants with Complexity Science relevance to be distributed across the relevant domain areas, recognising the novel contribution to those domain areas.

All current grants in this area will remain active.

This change follows the publication of the report on Complexity Science in December 2017 ( This review highlighted that over the past ten years, Complexity Science approaches and methodologies have become ever more embedded in other areas of research. EPSRC has consolidated this report and its recommendations with internal EPSRC data, ongoing community engagement and input from SATs and members of the SAN.

We have also updated the rationales of closely related Research Areas (Non-Linear Systems, Continuum Mechanics, Mathematical Biology, and Operational Research), to highlight the importance of complexity, and EPSRC’s commitment to continued support of it.

The following rationales have undergone minor update, to aid clarity and/or reference new influences or evidence sources:

To provide input to a Research Area, as part of our annual monitoring and change cycle, please visit the EPSRC Call for Evidence survey. This open Call for Evidence provides a year-round opportunity for engineering and physical sciences stakeholders, through their organisations, to provide input on Research Areas.